FreightWatch International Releases Cargo Theft Stats

Reefer truck driving on the roadAlthough the volume of cargo thefts in the United States declined by 20 percent in the third quarter of 2014, the loss value of those thefts increased by 104 percent, reveals the latest cargo theft trend report by FreightWatch International. FreightWatch International further reports that the average loss-value ceiling is on a continuous rise and attributes this to the targeting of high value freight by organized cargo thieves.

FreightWatch International tracks and records cargo theft and then categorizes stolen loads into 13 different product types, tracking by date, location, modus operandi, value and specific product. The product categories are: alcohol/tobacco; auto/parts; building/industrial; clothing/shoes; electronics; food/drinks; home/garden; metals; miscellaneous; personal care, pharmaceuticals.

In the third quarter of 2014, there were 208 incidents of cargo theft in the United States with 194 Full-Truckload (FTL) cargo thefts and 14 Last-Mile Courier thefts, according to FreightWatch International. Seventy of the FTL thefts happened in July, 76 in August and 48 in September. The average loss value per theft was $321,521.

During the third quarter, the Food/Drinks category was once again the product type most often stolen. There were a total of 35 incidents in the category, comprising 18 percent of all thefts. Targeted products in this category were meats, nuts, and canned and dry goods. The Electronics category came in a close second in the most stolen category with 17 incidents making up 33 percent of the total. Televisions, projectors, cell phones and accessories were the most popular subtypes.

Third among product type most often stolen was the Home/Garden sector with 28 thefts and 15 percent of total thefts. Appliances made up 46 percent of this category. The Building/Industrial category was next at 27 thefts (14 percent), made up mostly of building supplies and industrial equipment. The Auto/Parts, Clothing/Shoes and Metals categories came next in a three-way tie with eight thefts or eight percent of the total each.

FreightWatch International also released statistics broken down by state. California once again took first place in states with the most cargo theft, rising up from second place in the second quarter of 2014. There were 42 theft incidents, making up 21.4 percent of the total number of cargo thefts. This was a 36 percent increase over the volume in the second quarter. This did, however, represent a 46 percent decrease over the same quarter of last year.

Florida came in second with 33 thefts or 17 percent of the total number of cargo thefts. This represented a 28 percent decrease from the last quarter but a 10 percent increase from the same quarter in 2013.  Texas once again came in third with a total of 33 thefts or 13 percent of the total.

Counter to the national decline, New Jersey saw an increase in theft volume with 33 thefts (13 percent of the total), an 82 percent increase in volume. The top four states accounted for 62 percent of the national cargo thefts. The state of Washington is a first-timer on the list with four thefts. Some think this could be an indication that the cargo theft ring that was rumored to have left California may be targeting the Pacific Northwest.

As always, FreightWatch International reports that unattended cargo is at the greatest risk for cargo theft.  Unsecured parking made up the greatest number of theft incidents with 132 thefts, 23 percent of which took place at truck stops. Warehouse/distribution center thefts increased from 15 to 17 incidents. Secured parking had only one theft.

When it comes to the type of event, theft of trailer/container was the most common with 164 thefts or 85 percent of all thefts. Deceptive pickup and facility burglary tied for second, each having nine thefts. Although FreightWatch reports only confirmed thefts, it says that many reports of trucking companies with compromised identity were reported, which indicates deceptive pickup to be a growing threat. Additionally, the third quarter saw four driver thefts and one hijacking.

The average loss value for the third quarter ($321,521) was 82 percent higher than the second quarter and 104 percent higher than the third quarter of last year. Pharmaceuticals (medications) had the highest average loss value at $2,000,000, but that was due mostly to one hefty theft. The average loss for Electronics was $1,079,178 (a 279 percent increase). This was due in part to four separate thefts each valued at over $1 million. Pharmaceuticals (supplies) had the third highest average value loss at $453,625, most of which also was due to a single theft. Alcohol/Tobacco and Personal Care registered higher loss values at $421,407 and $412,000 respectively.

A new level of sophistication

In its latest report, FreightWatch International put the spotlight on the Pacific Northwest’s recent rise in theft volumes. The third quarter saw four of the six theft incidents in the last 12 months. Fifty percent of those thefts were multiple trailer thefts, with one taking three trailers and another taking four trailers. This is the first time there has been a recorded theft incident involving multiple trailers in the region, which FreightWatch says is a definite signature of experienced and organized cargo theft participants.

The level of sophistication in thefts is also increasing.  In one theft in Sumner, Wash., the thieves broke into the yard, cut CCTV cords, opened trailer doors and then broke the seals on the cargo in order to see what type of merchandise the trailers were carrying. They proceeded to mark nine trailers that they wanted removed. Three tractors arrived and succeeded in stealing four of the trailers before one became wedged on another trailer and foiled the rest of the plot. The thieves netted $1.35 million in laptops and other electronic devices.

The group that is believed to be responsible for this theft has its roots in Southern California and is believed to be the same group that committed nine trailer thefts in the Kent and Auburn areas of Washington earlier this year. The drop in cargo theft levels in California may be attributed to this group that aims for high-value cargo having moved its target area to Washington.

FreightWatch anticipates the surge in cargo theft activity in the Northwest to continue. Other hotspots are expected to emerge along I-5 and I-85, especially near Portland, OR, and Boise, ID, due to the number of truck stops there and the distance from the major shipping hub of Seattle, WA. FreightWatch is also predicting an increase in deceptive pickups in the region.

A warning for Truckers

Most recently, FreightWatch is also warning drivers about an elevation in “red zone” truckload thefts. There have been three of them in the last three weeks due to what it calls an “unusually high rate in violations of best practices for in-transit security.”  The three recent thefts were caused by “staging cargo within the red zone.” The red zone is defined as the area within 200 miles of a load’s origin. A large majority of cargo thefts occur within the first 200 miles of transport, says FreightWatch, and warns carriers and drivers to avoid red zone stops if possible.

FreightWatch recommends certain procedures to drivers in order to prevent cargo theft. For example, after leaving a shipper with a load, truck drivers should make sure they have enough hours left on their 14-hour clock and enough fuel in their tanks to drive beyond the red zone. FreightWatch also warns truck drivers to keep in constant communication with their carriers if emergency stops are made within a red zone. Most importantly, unattended staging for any length of time in the red zone should be avoided completely.

If a red zone stop is absolutely necessary, drivers should be sure to park in well-lit secured areas with the trailer back against an obstacle or permanent fixture. To further protect loads, “employ sound technology such as brake locks, fuel cut-offs and covert GPS tracking with active monitoring, says FreightWatch.

Hearn Trucking: Inspiring Story of Success

Tanker truck parkedIn recent years, the name Hearn Trucking has been synonymous with success. The privately owned trucking company out of Weatherford, Texas has been the recipient of the Midcontinent Kenworth Trucks Trucking Company of the Year award for the past two years. An impressive feat for any company, Hearn Trucking’s current spot at the top of the trucking industry is made even more impressive because of the journey it took to get there.

It all started in 1987, when co-owner Jack Hearn, Jr., a third generation trucker, had only one truck to his name, a far cry from the empire he runs today. Both Hearn’s mother and father worked in the trucking industry; his father as a trucker and his mother as his father’s secretary. The elder Hearn also owned his own company.

Hearn broke into the trucking industry early, following in his father’s footsteps, but soon decided to leave the industry to pursue other paths. Hearn settled on insurance sales, however, this move proved to be temporary.

“I got out of insurance and I was trying to find something different,” Hearn said. “I finally just got so broke, I had to do something and I got back into the trucking business.”

Armed with $2,000, a credit card and a truck, all gifts from his father, Hearn went out to try and make it in the trucking world. These gifts from his father would turn out to be just the jumpstart he needed.

Hearn started out by hauling flatbed loads of steel in the northeastern United States. Slowly but surely, Hearn built up his trucking empire. Today, Hearn Trucking, which is owned by Jack and Judith Hearn, is the second largest privately owned business in the industry in Texas. It is even one of the top five largest companies in the state including corporately owned ventures, according to Hearn Trucking Chief Operating Officer Jason Arispe.

Each day, an average of 150 Hearn Trucking Drivers are on the road. The company has over 200 trucks in its fleet, all of which are licensed to operate in all 48 contiguous states. Hearn Trucking drivers have traveled as far as Ohio to make deliveries.

From 2007-2008, Hearn Trucking completed a new administrative office, truck yard, and service shop to accommodate their growing numbers.

Midcontenent Trucking Award picture

Midcontinent Trucking Awards

Most of Hearn Trucking’s deliveries are sand and cement for the oil field and fracking industries. Hearn Trucking delivers supplies to a number of companies, including Schlumberger, Halliburton, and Baker Hughes. Hearn Trucking uses various types of equipment in order to transport goods, including sand trailers, cement trailers, reefers, various size flatbeds and sand doodlers.

Hearn Trucking’s tremendous growth has certainly not gone unnoticed. The company beat out stiff competition to the earn two Midcontinent Kenworth Trucks Trucking Company of the Year awards over the last two years.

“There are multiple trucking companies that are nominated, but only one is selected per region,” Arispe said. “Among our peers, we were selected as having the best trucking company.”

In the midst of all of the success, Hearn admits he is usually caught up in his duties as owner and president of Hearn Trucking. However, all of the success hasn’t made him forget why he came back to trucking. Occasionally, Hearn can be spotted on the road trucking “simply because he loves it”.

Despite its humble beginnings, it looks like there is no end in sight for the success at Hearn Trucking. If you would like more information about beginning your career at Hearn Trucking, visit their website.

Roehl Transport Wins Again with Military Friendly Employer Award

Roehl Transport logoRoehl Transport is the perfect fit for military veterans and spouses who are looking for a job this holiday season. Roehl was founded by military vet Everett Roehl in 1962 and the company now has more than 2,500 employees. Greg Koepel, Vice President of Workplace Development and Administration, mentions how popular of an employment avenue Roehl is for military veterans and those who are active in the army Reserves.

“With over 2,500 employees, Roehl Transport has long been an attractive place to work for military veterans and active Reserves, and we’re pleased to be recognized for our efforts to create military friendly jobs,” said Greg Koepel, Roehl Transport Vice President of Workforce Development and Administration.

Roehl Transport’s dedication and excellence not only won the trucking company its safety award earlier this year, but has also landed the trucking company the “Military Friendly Employer” title for the second year in a row. Military Friendly Employers media is recognized for its excellent reputation as a top notch source of employment for military members and military spouses. The media company takes its excellence to the next level every year, creating a higher standard of expectation from the previous years. The honorable men and women who lead America’s military make up the Advisory Board for Military Friendly Employers media.

“The 2015 Military Friendly Employers represent the preeminent tier of companies with strong military recruitment programs and meaningful job opportunities for transitioning service members and spouses,” said Sean Collins, Vice President for Victory Media and a nine-year Navy veteran.

The members from this year’s group of Military Friendly Employers hired more than 155,000 military service members and spouses which is a 35 percent increase from last year’s hires.

Roehl Transport’s hard work doesn’t end with the Military Friendly Award. The dedicated company employees are also recognized as part of the Roehl Honor Program. Members have access to attend a two-year Apprenticeship program that will qualify them as a Heavy Duty Truck Driver after completion. Drivers from all over the country are accepted into the program. Roehl strives to be a model of excellence for the trucking industry.

Truckers Needed to Support Wreaths Across America

Wreaths Across America picture of grave sites

This view of Arlington National Cemetery from 2013, from the Wreaths Across America Facebook page.

Each year, Wreaths Across America places remembrance wreaths on graves of veterans across the nation. According to Wreaths Across America website in 2013 alone, more than 500,000 wreaths were distributed to nearly 900 veterans cemeteries across the United States. The trucking industry plays an integral role in allowing for Wreaths Across America to carry out its mission. From helping to raise funds for the program to delivering the wreaths to the hundreds of sites across the country, Wreaths Across America is only possible with the trucking industry’s support. Now, Wreaths Across America is reaching out for some last-minute help to ensure that no veteran grave is bare this holiday season.

Currently, Wreaths Across America says that it has nearly 70% of their loads covered. However, time is running out to find truckers to cover the remaining 30%. Luckily, there are a variety of ways to participate and contribute to help Wreaths Across America reach their goal before The National Wreaths Across America Day on December 13.

The program is looking for both trucking companies and owner operators to transport the wreaths. Both carriers and owner operators have the option to select a route to haul wreaths to one of the cemeteries supported by Wreaths Across America. Additionally, there is a “sponsor a load” option where companies can contribute funds so an owner operator can participate without forfeiting revenue.

Red big rig truck with wreath on front.

Wreaths across America drivers attach a new, fresh wreath to the grill of their trucks. The wreaths help spread the word about Wreaths Across America and add some holiday cheer.

People can also donate money to support Wreaths Across America. Donations will help to support the organization’s mission to “Remember, Honor, & Teach” all throughout the year.

The Truckload Carriers Association has set up a Wreaths Across America specific website that makes it easier for truckers to offer their services to support the cause. Companies and owner-operators who are interested in getting involved should visit the website through the previous link to find out more and sign up for a route. They can also find more information about Wreaths Across America, including its mission and other initiatives, on the website.

Those interested in helping out should act quickly. The last day to select routes will be Friday, December 5, so act today to help make a difference this holiday season.

TCA and TMAF Partner to Boost Trucking Movement

Wreaths placed by Wreaths Across America at a cemetery

One of many participating Wreaths Across America cemeteries.

The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) announced its $25,000 donation to the Trucking Moves America Forward (TMAF) organization on November 13, 2014. The donation will be given to TMAF over the next five years and this partnership includes co-branding with Wreaths Across America and the United States Capitol Christmas Tree. This dynamic duo will have a logo that will be placed on the boxes that carry the wreaths for Wreaths Across America.

The National  Wreaths Across America Day will take place at the Arlington National Cemetery and various veteran cemeteries throughout the country. Truckload of Respect trucks will transport the wreaths to all 900 participating cemeteries for the wreaths to be placed on December 13.

The wreath ceremony would not be possible without the help of volunteers. This year’s estimated volunteer count is approximately 30,000 people. These volunteers will lay the wreaths on the headstones of the thousands of men and women who fought for America’s freedom. These volunteers will also be among the first to see the co-branded logo on the side of the trucks.

“Programs like Wreaths Across America and the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree project show how the trucking industry is giving back to our communities and our country,” said Kevin Burch, TMAF vice chair and president of Jet Express.

TCA Christmas truck with wreath

TCA celebrates Christmas with truck decor.

The efforts of TMAF and TCA will be seen at the Capitol Christmas Tree Campaign in this year and in 2015. The logo will be promoted at the lighting ceremony and reception in Washington, D.C. next month and will also adorn the trucks and trailers of the tree’s tour from Alaska to the Capitol. The many Americans who enjoy the tree lighting ceremony every year have the U.S. Forestry Service to thank for delivering “The People’s Tree” and making the entire event possible.

“TMAF is changing the way we all look at the trucking industry and is showing how important this industry is to our country,” said Shepard Dunn, TCA chairman and president of Bestway Express. “TMAF is promoting the good work that trucking is doing for everyone in America and it is only fitting that we partner with TMAF and work to improve the image of our essential industry.”

Since its launch at the Mid-America Trucking Show this year, Trucking Moves America Forward aims to educate policymakers, motorists, and the public about the beneficial lifestyle trucking has to offer. This initiative is in place to enhance the trucking industry as a whole.

The Truckload Carriers Association works hand in hand to accomplish the annual Wreaths Across America and U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree events, along with being a part of the foundation of the TMAF movement.

Driver Deeds | Trucker Rescued by “Guardian Angel”

Truck drivers of America and drivers in other countries are constantly saving lives by performing selfless acts in the case of an emergency. But truck drivers are not the only transportation employees who help civilians in the middle of a wreck or a meltdown. Sometime the drivers are the ones who need rescuing. Paula Finney, a civilian driver, and Darnell Barton, a city bus driver, performed driver deeds worth reporting.

What would you do if you witnessed a semi truck and a passenger vehicle collide? Paula Finney from Hamilton, Georgia acted immediately and proved how brave and selfless she truly is. When she saw this semi truck and passenger vehicle collide, her first instinct was to help the truck driver who jumped from his cab and hit the ground like a stunt double. Finney said the scene was like something from a movie set.

“The car going across the median, hit the guardrail, bounce off of it and come back under the diesel tanker” was Finney’s first recall of the accident. She also remembers that the driver jumped out of his truck and tucked and rolled into the median like a stunt driver. She ran over and helped the driver, known as Davis. She helped him get to her car and then he told her to drive away quickly. Davis told Finney “she’s about to blow” in reference to his tanker, he had just gotten loaded before the accident. As they drove ⅛ of a mile away from the scene, Finney noticed Davis was shook up, yet she could tell he was just relieved to have made it out alive.

“I couldn’t leave. When I saw him jumping out of his truck like a stunt driver, I had to do something.”

Finney’s father was a truck driver for almost four decades and she just wanted to return the favor of what someone did for him when he had an accident. She believes that Davis saved lives because of how well he handled the situation and how well he knew his own truck. Davis has been driving for 11 years, he is a veteran, and has two sons. The truck driver’s family is calling Finney a “guardian angel”.

“No, I just did what anybody should do,” was Finney’s humble response.

Our hats are off to you, Paula!

In October 2013, public bus driver Darnell Barton helped to rescue a woman who was distraught standing on a bridge. This story hit the news very quickly and encouraged many, many people around the country, bringing light to their lives.

Barton was driving his route on the Elmwood Avenue bridge and it was there that he saw a distressed woman and helped her off the bridge. He stopped his bus on the bridge and  from there he sat with her and talked with her on the sidewalk until another form of help arrived.

Elmwood Avenue signBarton’s selfless deed circulated through a multitude of media outlets. The New York Daily News, the online Huffington Post, and radio and television shows. People were so touched by Barton’s good deed that they offered him gifts. He received free dinners and a donation page dedicated to raising money for Barton by a North Tonawanda Cub Scout group.

Barton’s sister said, “We are so proud of him. He’s just a good hearted person, and so very humble. He is an everyday hero in our minds and hearts.”

Our hats are off to you, Darnell!

Medical Examiners to Consider Pain Meds

Medical exam and stethoscope picture

In an effort to enhance the process whereby Certified Driver Medical Examiners (CDMEs) determine a professional driver’s fitness to receive a medical card, a joint advisory committee to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has recommended that CDMEs require a questionnaire to be filled out by a truck driver’s primary care or other treating physician concerning the driver’s use of Schedule II prescription pain medications. The joint advisory committee was made up of the FMCSA’s Medical Review Board (MRB) and the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC).

If a CDME knows of or suspects use of some Schedule II prescription pain medications, the questionnaire would serve as a simpler way to gather information during drivers’ medical exams, says the joint committee. During the Oct. 27 meeting, the Medical Review Board again upheld the current exclusion to the use of such medications. Schedule II pain medications are allowed when prescribed by a licensed medical practitioner familiar with the truck driver’s medical history and has advised that the drug will not impact the driver’s ability to operate a vehicle.
The issue for truck drivers is a part of a greater discussion in the U.S. medical field. Many are concerned about the widespread use of opioids in the treatment of chronic pain throughout the U.S. “If you go to the dentist and say, ‘this tooth is killing me,’ you will get hydrocodone,” said Dr. Mitchell Garber, a member of the Medical Expert Panel that recently advised the FMCSA on the issue.

Screening Prescriptions

There are three questions pertaining to prescribed medications on the current CMV driver medication questionnaire for primary care physicians. In order to more clearly define the scope of those questions, the joint committee’s revisions now read as follows:

QUESTION 1: List all medications and dosages that you have prescribed to the above-named individuals.

SUBQUESTION 1b: List any other medications and dosages that you are aware have been prescribed to the above named individual (THE DRIVER) by another treating healthcare provider.

QUESTION 2: What medical conditions are being treated with the above medications?

QUESTION 3: It is my medical opinion that, considering the mental and physical requirement of operating a CMV and with awareness of a CMV DRIVER’s role (consistent with “The Driver’s Role” statement on page 2), my patient:

A.  Has no medication side effects from medications that I prescribe that would adversely affect the ability to operate a CMV safely, and

B.  Has no medical conditions(s) that I am treating with the above medication(s) that would adversely affect the ability to operate a CMV safely.

Check boxes indicating the examiner’s agreement or disagreement follow.

“There is moderate evidence to support the contention that licit use of opioids increases the risk of a motor vehicle crash,” says a March 21, 2014 report titled Schedule II Opioids and Stimulants & CMV Crash Risk and Driver Performance prepared for the FMCSA and cited by Katharine Fiedler of Acclaro, a research organization, to the joint committee. “Several large and recent studies link opioid use to increased risk of driver fatalities, driver injury, crash risk, and unsafe driver actions. Most identified studies show increased risk. However, many of the findings are drawn from the same large European dataset, and many of them also classify all opioids together. Results for specific opioids are more limited and less convincing.”

Fiedler believes that the revisions to the questionnaire will bring more standardization and accountability to the process, which will provide CDMEs a clearer way to meet the requirements of the Schedule II exception. Dr. Albert Osbahr, medical director for occupational health services at Catawba Valley Medical Center in North Carolina agrees. He says the revised questionnaire brings increased protection to the CDME who ultimately has to make the decision whether to grant the exception or not.

Dr. Gina Pervall, the FMCSA Medical Review Board chairman and also medical director for occupational medicine services at the John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, called for an emphasis on the need to further the conversation between drivers and CDMEs on the relationship between Schedule II narcotics’ effects and safety. The advantage of the questionnaire will be “to hopefully make the driver and examining physician more aware of what’s happening with the driver and medications,” she says.

Industry Dissents From Medical Professionals

Not everyone is supportive of the revisions, however, saying they are unnecessary and complicated. Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association (OOIDA) said, “We are moving at high speed in a direction of finding ways to disqualify experienced, safe drivers, knowing full well, that those who will replace them may or may not be well-trained … and they will crash at twice the rate of experienced drivers.”

Gary Catapano, safety vice president of the First Student, Inc., bus company, said the revised questionnaire is an extra step that is not necessary beyond the current regulations. He says it’s already too hard to get a driver through the process of driver certification through the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners. He recently experienced the process himself while trying for qualification. “I know how difficult it was to re-qualify, how much communication was involved between the examiner and my own doctor,” he said. “It’s all become a lot more complicated and time-consuming.”

The joint committee also made several other recommendations to the FMCSA regarding Schedule II medications:

  • Drivers qualified by the questionnaire but are using prescribed narcotics for pain management should be certified for one year at a time.
  • A CDME should consider whether the underlying medical condition requiring narcotic(s) use is a disqualifying condition itself.
  • A driver should not be under the influence of narcotics while performing safety-sensitive duties, including driving a commercial truck.
  • If a driver uses narcotics while off duty, he/she must not use the narcotic for a minimum of eight hours (if using short-acting narcotics) or 12 hours (if using long-acting narcotics) before resuming safety-sensitive duties.
  • CDME’s should consider disqualifying a driver for the usage of other impairing or habit-forming drugs when used in combination with a narcotic or narcotic derivative.
  • FMCSA should consider issuing guidelines to CDMEs relating to other habit-forming drugs, including benzodiazepines and amphetamines.

Roehl Transport Wins Big at ATA Safety Awards

Roehl Transport logo

On the heels of being recognized by the EPA with a 2014 SmartWay Excellence Award, Roehl Transport are winners again. The trucking company has been recognized for its industry leading safety performance with big wins in the American Trucking Association’s (ATA) National Safety Contests.

Roehl Transport took home awards for on-road safety with recognition for its Flatbed Division in the Flatbed/Line-Haul over 10 Million Miles category. Roehl Transport’s Van Division was also recognized in the General Commodities Truckload/Line-Haul Between 110-250 Million Miles category. Additionally, the company was recognized for industrial workplace safety in the General Commodities Truckload over 1,000 category.

“Our teammates earn these recognitions by bringing our corporate value of safety to life,” said John Spiros, Roehl Transport’s Vice President of Safety and Claims Management, in a statement.

The ATA, the largest trade group in the trucking industry, has long recognized Roehl for its achievements in safety.

“Our drivers understand the importance of the work they do and their driving choices affect others. They drive to protect the people they share the road with. That’s why we’re a safe company, and that’s why we’re recognized as such,” Spiros added.

Roehl Transport continues to be one of the nation’s safest trucking companies, as measured by independent trade groups like ATA. ATA has thousands of members. The group is dedicated not only to promoting safety on America’s highways while also representing the trucking industry with regards to transportation policies, image, education and research.

Roehl Transport has been recognized for its safety performance every year since 2004. During that time, the company has won the ATA President’s Trophy twice, in 2008 and 2011. The ATA President’s Trophy is considered one of the highest honors in the trucking industry.

If you would like more information on how you can start your career with the award-winning Roehl Transport, visit their website. You may also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

Capitol Hill Christmas Tree Moves America

On an autumn day looming with holiday cheer in Class Lake, Minnesota, an 88-foot white spruce tree was cut down by the Chippewa National Forest, in partnership with the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and Choose Outdoors. The spectacle hosted 500 attendees, which included 170 school children, who watched the cutting of the tree that has been selected as the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree this year.

For the past 50 years, a magnificent tree has been selected and transported across the United States to appear on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol Washington, D.C. “From Minnesota’s Chippewa National Forest all the way to Washington D.C., the 2014 Capitol Christmas Tree will showcase our state’s natural beauty in communities across the country,” U.S. Senator Klobuchar said. The tradition, which has been upheld by sponsors, such as, Choose Outdoors, Randall Reilly, and Kenworth, has brought a beautiful entry into the holiday season by uniting our country under one tree.

Capitol Hill Christmas TreeThe tree will be doused with over 10,000 ornaments donated from children around the Minnesota area as a recognition from “The Land of 10,000 Lakes.” Additionally, 70 companion trees will be provided by Minnesota Tree Growers Association to decorate the insides of Capitol Hill buildings.

Most importantly, though, is that a truck will be transporting this beacon of holiday cheer across the country.Kenworth has designed a specialized T880 truck, equipped with a powerful and fuel-efficient 500-hp PACCAR MX-13 engine with 1,850 lb-ft of torque, a 52-inch mid roof sleeper, and an Eaton Fuller 13-speed transmission.

The trailer is specifically designed to pull the Capitol Hill Christmas Tree along it’s 2,000 mile journey from Minnesota to Washington, D.C. The cab bears the decal of the Capitol Hill Christmas Tree event and shows off a view of the tree at night, all illuminated.

t880 Kenworth Truck with a Christmas tree and the capitol building on the sideAlong the way, the truck will stop at the following locations to celebrate the journey of the white spruce across America:

  • Itasca State Park, MN (Nov. 2)
  • Bemidji, MN (Nov. 2)
  • Walker, MN (Nov. 3)
  • Cass Lake, MN ( Nov. 3)
  • Blackduck, MN (Nov. 4)
  • Marcell, MN  (Nov. 4)
  • Deer River, MN ( Nov. 4)
  • Cohasset, MN (Nov 4)
  • Grand Rapids, MN ( Nov. 5)
  • Duluth, MN (Nov. 5)
  • West Saint Paul, MN (Nov. 6)
  • Eden Prairie, MN (Nov 6)
  • Rochester, MN (Nov. 7)
  • Red Wing, MN (Nov. 7)
  • Owatonna, MN (Nov. 8)
  • Fort Snelling, MN ( Nov. 8)
  • Madison, WI (Nov. 10)
  • Milwaukee, WI (Nov. 11)
  • Wilmington, IL (Nov. 12)
  • Elwood, IL (Nov. 12)
  • Grand Rapids, MI (Nov. 13)
  • Dearborn, MI (Nov. 15)
  • Cleveland, OH (Nov. 16)
  • Chillicothe, OH (Nov 16)
  • Charleston, WV ( Nov. 17)
  • Marietta, OH (Nov. 18)
  • Wheeling, WV (Nov. 18)
  • Andrews Air Force Base, MD (Nov. 20)

The tree lighting is set to occur on December 2nd, as determined by the U. S. Rep. John Boehner, Speaker of the House, and will be broadcasted on C-SPAN. Don’t miss your chance to see this incredible event to start off the holiday season, which was brought to you by truckers, the individuals who will keep America moving this holiday season.

FMCSA Grants Benefit Trucking Vets

Nine American technical and community colleges are the recipients of $1 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to train returning military veterans for employment as drivers in the trucking industry. The grants are supplied through FMCSA’s Commercial Motor Vehicle – Operator Safety Training (CMV-OST) grant program.

American flag waiving in the windU.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx stated:

“Those that we entrust to protect and serve our nation deserve opportunities that utilize the skills and training they received on the job on military bases overseas and at home. We can think of none more appropriate to safeguard our highways as commercial vehicle drivers than the thousands of veterans who have already proven they can safely handle large vehicles under extremely stressful circumstances.”

The funds will be used not only to recruit and train students but also to provide truck driving jobs placement services for them after graduation. The organizations awarded the CMV-OST grants offer truck driving training and include public or private colleges, universities, vocational-technical schools, post-secondary educational institutions truck driver training schools, associations, and state and local governments (including federally-recognized Native American tribal governments).

Said FMCSA Acting Administrator Scott Darling, “Graduates of these training programs are continuing to serve our nation by ensuring that the goods and products we depend on are delivered professionally, efficiently and, most importantly, safely.”

The 2014 FMCSA grants, which are projected to provide training for nearly 400 new students, were made to the following institutions:

  • Century College in White Bear Lake Minn., $91,080
  • Crowder College, Neosho, Mo., $72,160
  • Joliet Junior College, Joliet, Ill., $165,800
  • Lone Star College – North Harris, Houston, Texas, $73,704
  • Metropolitan Community College, Omaha, Ne., $47,614
  • Northampton County Area Community College, Bethlehem, Pa., $134,400
  • South Florida State College, Avon Park, Fla., $58,003
  • The Sage Corporation, Camp Hill, Pa., $249,968
  • Tidewater Community College, Norfolk, Va., $107,271

Congress established the CMV-OST grant program in 2005 through the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act – A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). The purpose was twofold: 1) to expand the number of commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders; and 2) to increase and improve safety training for professional truck drivers to decrease the severity and number of truck-involved crashes.

The grants build upon other work the FMCSA has done on behalf of veterans, such as the Military Skills Test Waiver Program. Now, for active duty or recently separated veterans with at least two years of experience, state licensing agencies are permitted to waive the skills test portion of the CDL application. This waiver speeds up the process for civilian CDL application processes and reduces expenses for the qualified applicants as well as state licensing agencies.

More than 60,000 service members are assigned to military occupational specialties that involve operating a wide range of heavy vehicles to deliver supplies and equipment to U.S. forces around the world. Many of those vehicles are essentially identical to commercial motor vehicles operated on U.S. roadways. Military drivers of these vehicles are not required to hold a civilian CDL during their active duty.

Subsequently, it was often the case that returning U.S. military veterans faced obstacles in transitioning from active duty heavy vehicle operation to the civilian commercial vehicle driver workforce. The dilemma was revealed by the fact that civilian commercial trucking companies require new CDL hires to show proof of civilian commercial vehicle driving experience and validation of a safe driving history.

A study was earlier required of the FMCSA by the MAP-21 funding law. The purpose of the study was to:

  • identify training, qualification standards, knowledge, skills tests and other challenges that members of the Armed Forces must meet to satisfy the minimum standards in obtaining CDLs;
  • compare alcohol and controlled substances testing requirements for military forces to those required of CDL holders;
  • evaluate causes of delays in reviewing Armed Forces members’ applications for CDLs;
  • identify duplicate application costs;
  • identify residency, testing and other safety or health requirements that affect or delay issuance of CDLs to former members of the Armed Forces; and
  • determine any other factors that may be relevant to simplify for military drivers to obtain a civilian CDL.

The following six actions were identified by the study to expand opportunities and ease the transition into obtaining a CDL:

  1. an extension from 90 days to one year for veterans to apply for the Military Skills Test Waiver;
  2. add the option to qualify for a CDL based on training and experience in an MOC (military occupation code) to military operation;
  3. revise the definitions of licenses and learner’s permits with domicile requirements;
  4. develop an abbreviated CDL Skills Test for military drivers who do not have experience operating vehicles with air brakes or manual transmissions;
  5. continue to explore other best practices to ease the transition from military occupations to a job requiring a CDL;
  6. and explore waiving the requirement for pre-employment drug testing of recently discharged military personnel due to their participation in a military random drug testing program.

Also in the spirit of helping returning veterans’ transitions to the civilian commercial vehicle driver workforce, the FMCSA announced this summer that starting with Virginia residents, “returning military service personnel who have a state-issued Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) certificate due to a limb impairment will automatically be recognized as equivalent to an FMCSA-issued SPE certificate and allowed to obtain an interstate commercial driver’s license.”